Except for the early moments in Cell 27 when my cellmate wrapped his hands around my neck, the rest of my first twenty-four hours of jail life crept along like a snail on a hot sidewalk. Slowly! Bogart and I reached a tacit truce, which allowed me to speak only when he directed a question at me, but otherwise, I remained silent.
I wandered out into the common area and spent time with eleven other inmates watching TV. Reality shows, especially “Judge Judy” and “Dog the Bounty Hunter,” were the favorites with comments being peppered at the TV throughout each show.
As far as eating, no one noticed that I was not doing so. God’s grace covered my fast and my efforts to do it in secret.
At 10 a.m., a tall guard came to the cell. “Matthews?” he said.
“Yes,” I said, sitting up in my bunk.
“Come down here. Turn around. Put your hands behind your back.”
I followed his instructions as he put handcuffs on my wrists and quickly patted down my body for weapons.
“Turn around. Walk out the door, turn right, and head toward the entrance. Your lawyer is waiting for you in meeting room #2, on your left.”
When I entered the small room, Artie sat at a metal table, wearing a light gray suit and black shirt open at the collar. The guard removed my handcuffs and left the room. I sat down on the opposite side of the table from Artie.
“How are you doing?” he asked, looking into my eyes.
I shrugged. “Well, it’s not a picnic, but so far, I’m doing okay.”
“Well, that’s probably as good as one can hope for right now.”
He opened his brown briefcase and took out my worn black leather Bible.
“Jane brought this over before I left the office this morning.”
I grabbed the Bible and fanned the pages.
“Thank you, just what I need right now.”
“Here are some legal pads and jail approved pencils, too.”
I nodded my head.
Artie blew out a deep breath before explaining the prosecutor’s offer of leniency in exchange for my admittance of guilt and apology.
“No, not interested in that deal.”
He then mentioned how the City Attorney’s office would throw the book at me if I refused the offer, which could result in a log prison sentence for me. Even if the decision were appealed, I might end up being locked up for months or years before the case was settled.
“Still not interested. Sink or swim, live or die, I’m determined to trust the Lord all the way to the end of this.”
Artie stood up and picked up his briefcase. “I will be back in eleven days to ready you for your preliminary hearing. Jane will visit you tomorrow and Sunday.” He paused a moment. “My wife and I are praying for you…just want you to know that.”
We shook hands before the guard returned to take me back to Cell 27.
(Continued in Part 17…the full series to date can be read here.)